Friday, September 23, 2011

Bleach: Soul Resurrection Review

Platform(s): Playstation 3
Developer(s): SCE Japan Studio
Publisher(s): Sony Computer Entertainment
Genre: Action

Captain Kyoraku getting ready for war.

Bleach: Soul Resurreccion is an action game based on the popular anime and manga. The game starts out with Ichigo and company heading to Huecho Mundo to rescue their friend Orihime who has been taken to ex-Soul Reaper Captain Soske Aizen. You fight your way through waves of Hollows of various types including the giant Menos Grande to save Orihime from Aizen. All your favorite Bleach characters are present in the game each with their own chapter in the game's story. Soul Resurreccion's graphics nearly match the anime much in the way of the Naruto games. Side mission's provide action-packed areas to build your character's stats. The missions are pretty straight forward--defeat all the Hollows to complete the mission. This is a good way to build any character who is lacking in skills and abilities especially those who are aquired late in the game. Character development is done through a Final Fantasy type grid. Each character has their own section on the grid. Abilities and attributes such as life, soul energy, etc. are upgraded by spending Soul Points gathered during gameplay. Like in recent Final Fantasy releases, characters are not limited to their section on the grid. You can guide them to other sections to gain more abilities and attributes.

PRO: Bleach: Soul Ressureccion is impressive with graphics that closely match the anime. The game keeps everyone's powers and special abilities intact from the series. The cool thing is that Ichigo as well as some of the other characters start off already in the Bankai stages so there's no need to develop from scratch. The game is fast-paced like the series with sword swinging action and powerful enemies, some of which can finish off a character in just a few hits. Navigating the stages is not too difficult. You can run through it normally or dash your way to the end in a matter of moments. Combat is simple. You can slash away at the Hollows with your character's main weapon or use their special attacks which are limited in use by the Soul Gauge. But not to worry, the Soul Gauge recovers over time and is ready for use before you even know it. Another amazing feature is the Ignitioin Gauge which, when triggered, brings out your charater's most devastating attacks taken straight from the series.

CON: Soul Resurreccion isn't that bad of a game and there are a couple of drawbacks. For starters, the Hollow enemies aren't too difficult to defeat. You'll wipe out a large number of them before they can even cause damage. Even the larger Hollows pose no real threat. Their attacks take a good chunk out of your life bar but they go down easily once you figure outr their pattern which isn't that difficult. Boss battles are usually intense in games of this type but here not so much. Sure, as the game progresses bosses do get tougher and you will die. However, the strategy is easy to figure out and you can take out your foe with minimal effort. My biggest gripe is blocking and dodging. There's too much lagtime when executing either one. Plus I really couldn't cancel an attack to perform them smoothly. I was able to once I stopped slashing my sword but not during.

OVERALL: Bleach: Soul Resurreccion is a good action game that didn't miss on adapting from the series. Fans will enjoy this game as well as those new to the series. It may not be up to par with the Naruto games but it is definately a step from the previous entry. The action goes by fast but its side missions and hidden unlockables will keep you engaged. Bleach: Soul Resurreccion is a fun game that is a worthy entry for anime adapted games.

Overall Score: Bleach: Soul Resurrection gets a 3.5 out of 5

See you on the next level,

Brian M.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Alice: Madness Returns Review

Platform(s): Playstation 3, X-Box 360, PC, Apple
Developer(s): Spicy Horse
Publisher(s): Electronic Arts
Genre: Action/Adventure, Platform
Rating: M for Mature

Ten years ago I learned about a game that fueled my love of twisted fairy tales as well as action platform games. American Mcgee released Alice in 2001 but it was only for the PC much to my dismay. Then just recently, EA games released the sequel Alice: Madness Returns. The story picks up after the end of the first game with Alice now living in an orphanage in Victorian London after being released from Rutledge Asylum. At the orphanage, she is under the care of a psychiatrist named Doctor Angus Bumby, who uses hypnotism to help his child patients to forget their harsh memories. Still haunted by her family's death in the house fire ten years ago, Alice continues to have hallucinations. Sent to the local chemist to get medicine, Alice wanders after a white cat and has more hallucinations, witnessing asylum Nurse Witless transform into the Jabberwock. And this is where the games madness begins.

The Story
Alice: Madness Returns version of Wonderland is a twisted malevolent landscape of its former self. Upon arriving, Alice encounters the Cheshire Cat who informs her of a new law ruling Wonderland, this time it’s from the outside world. Alice must stop it and restore Wonderland to normal. After learning of Wonderland’s plight, I guided Alice through the beautiful yet strange landscape. I found it pretty easily to navigate. Once I picked up my first weapon, the Vorpal Blade, found in the remains of the Jabberwock, my first enemies appeared. The game’s combat system is fairly simple. Alice targets the closest enemy when attacking; however, I am able to manually target my foes as well. The manual targeting set-up is similar to Darksiders placing a black border around the screen keeping it fixed while I moved Alice around. I can cycle through enemies with ease, keeping the action moving. Madness Returns’ offers lots of platforming which becomes a larger part of the game as you traverse through Wonderland’s areas. I found this to play out more in later stages and since there no ledge grabbing like in most current titles, I had to make my jumps count. However, this is compensated by Alice ability to triple jump and float. The game also has lots of secrets and hidden areas which can be accessed using Alice’s ability to shrink. Alice’s other ability is her Hysteria mode that she enters when her health is low. In this mode, she is invincible and her attack strength is doubled.

The Pros
The combat mechanics are simplistic enough for anyone new to the game or to the type of game play. Alice’s primary weapon, the Vorpal Blade, attacks with lightning speed which quickly finishes off weaker enemies. There are also long range weapons in the form of a gattling-gun firing Pepper Grinder and Teapot Launcher which fire boiling tea at your enemies. I like the fact that I can switch between close and long range on the fly. The platforming element is very basic, a kind of throwback to its early days where timing is everything. I was pleased with the level designs and the disturbing atmosphere of each world which truly represented the madness of Wonderland. Also, you get to access to the first game either with a redeemable code or purchasing it for $9.99.

The Cons
Before I mentioned the simplicity of the game’s combat mechanic, but it couldn’t hurt to have a little variety in Alice attacks. I found myself button mashing the whole way. True, there are moments where I had to strategize to defeat certain enemies but I would’ve liked to be able to vary my attacks rather just simply swing the weapon wildly. The game does glitch a few times. Sometimes my long range weapon remained deployed even though I had switched the Vorpal Blade. My mayor problem was the camera especially when using the long range weapons. The camera is not always fixed behind Alice and in some instances this infraction ruined my jumps during a platforming section. I found myself having to adjust the camera before and sometimes during a jump or when using my long range weapons. The umbrella Alice uses for defense is only deployable when in targeting mode. I would’ve liked more freedom with this.

Despite its faults, Alice: Madness Returns is a good action platform game in the tradition of Darksiders and the God of War series. Its disturbing cut scenes keep the story moving which may be confusing unless you’re familiar with the Lewis Carroll story. I like how the game’s storyline switches between Wonderland and the real world, which has an atmosphere relevant to Silent Hill. Exploration of both worlds will keep you interested as well as the secrets found using Alice’s shrink ability. Fans of the first game will have fun with the sequel. If you haven’t played the first game but are looking for an action platform to kill some time then pick up this game. Though I have not played the first game, I like Madness Returns. It is a bizarre twist on a classic tale told like never before.

Final Score
Alice: Madness Returns gets a 3 out of 5.

-Brian M.